Police searched Friday for clues in connection with the death of a man whose beaten body was found beneath the Santa Monica Pier and may be related to the deaths of two homeless men in downtown Los Angeles.
The man’s body was found around 6:30 a.m. Thursday by city maintenance workers, according to the Santa Monica Police Department. He was identified by the coroner’s office as 39-year-old Steven Cruze Jr., from San Gabriel, and was initially described as homeless by the SMPD.
The man’s family told KTLA5 Friday that Cruze, who lived with his parents in San Gabriel, had chosen to sleep there after an overnight fishing trip. He enjoyed fishing in Santa Monica at night and sometimes slept outside on a hammock, his aunt, Jennifer Smith, told KTLA5.
An autopsy was pending.
“We have not necessarily linked it to the incidents that have happened in the downtown L.A. area,” Santa Monica police Lt. Saul Rodriguez told ABC7. “But there are some similarities and we are working closely with LAPD to see if there is any way we can locate a possible suspect.”
Two of three homeless men who were attacked Sunday in downtown Los Angeles while they slept later died — a man in his 50s on Tuesday night, and a man in his 20s on Thursday morning, according to the coroner’s office. Their names were withheld, pending notification of kin.
The third victim in Sunday’s attacks remains hospitalized in critical condition with severe head trauma, said Drake Madison, public information officer of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The trio of downtown attacks occurred between 4 and 5 a.m. Sunday, and Los Angeles police released surveillance video of a man suspected in those attacks, which investigators said were carried out with a baseball bat.
The first incident was at the northwest corner of Fifth and Flower streets, while the second and third happened on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, just east of Flower Street, Los Angeles Police Captain William Hayes said at a Monday news conference.
All three victims were attacked while they slept, and the suspect went through their belongings before leaving the scene, Hayes said.
The suspect was described as white or Hispanic with dark bushy hair and wearing a blue hat, gray sweatshirt, black shorts and bright white tennis shoes. Police noted that the suspect, who might also be homeless, appeared slightly bow-legged and walked with a distinctive gait.
Anyone with information on the downtown Los Angeles attacks was urged to call Robbery-Homicide Detectives at (213) 486-6890.
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